North and South Korean Leaders Meet to Discuss Canceled Summit With Trump

May 26, 2018, 2:19 PM UTC
President Trump Signs Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, And Consumer Protection Act In  The Roosevelt Room Of White House
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 24: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the cancelled summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a bill signing ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House May 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump cited "tremendous anger and open hostility" toward his administration by North Korea as a reason for cancelling the proposed summit. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee Getty Images

The leaders of North and South Korea met for two hours Saturday to discuss the canceled summit with Donald Trump, less than a day after the U.S. leader signaled the meeting may be back on citing “very productive” talks between the two countries.

South Korea’s Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in a surprise move, spent two hours together at the truce village of Panmunjom, and had a candid discussion about the potential U.S.-Korea meeting, Moon’s office said in text message. Moon will brief the media on the unexpected meeting at 10 a.m. Sunday, his office said.

Trump on Friday night said the historic June summit with Kim could go ahead following talks between the two countries.

“We are having very productive talks with North Korea about reinstating the Summit which, if it does happen, will likely remain in Singapore on the same date, June 12th, and, if necessary, will be extended beyond that date,” Trump said in a tweet.

Moon crossed the border to meet Kim at the Tongilgak building in an area of Panmunjom controlled by North Korea. They discussed how to implement the Panmunjom Declaration and the success of a potential Trump-Kim meeting, according to the text from the president’s office.

Trump abruptly canceled the planned summit in a letter to Kim on Thursday — and then pivoted a day later. “We are talking to them now,” he told reporters in Washington earlier Friday, saying the summit might proceed and “it could even be the 12th.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters in Annapolis, Maryland, on Friday, that “we are working on plans going forward.” While there are always “high points and low points” in diplomacy, she said, “we hope that the meeting will go forward at some point.”

The comments reflected a broadly shared perception inside the White House and State Department that the two leaders still want to get together and there will be a meeting eventually. “We would like to do it,” Trump said, and “they very much like to do it.”

Less than a year after the two leaders traded threats of nuclear war, the back-and-forth over whether the summit will even happen reflects both Trump’s lead-from-the-gut style of decision-making and North Korea’s long-standing penchant for unpredictable behavior.